2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Beyond Tokyo and Kyoto:
A Study of Chinese Ancient History by Watanabe Shinichirō

Te-chuan Wang

Department of History, National Chengchi University

The Study of Chinese history in Japan during the first half of the twentieth century can be divided into two main schools, the Kyoto School founded by Naito Konan and the Tokyo School under the influence of Marxism. One of the most discussed controversies between the two schools during the post-war era was the periodization of Chinese history. In the 1980s, this prolonged debate came to a halt. Some scholars from Kyoto University organized a new academic association, the Society for the Study of Chinese History. At first, they followed the tradition of Kyoto school, but gradually came closer to the Marxist school.

One of the members of the Society, Watanabe Shinichirō, whose interests cover a period from the Han to the Tang dynasties, emphasized the idea of national independence. He also applied a Marxist interpretation of history, an approach generally used by the Tokyo School. His historical narrative and organization were nevertheless under strong influence of the Kyoto School, which accentuated the dynamic development of the society. Watanabe revised Marxist theories as the basis of his analytical frame and nourished himself with the fruits of the Kyoto school. Tanigawa Michio also served as a great inspiration. Watanabe stressed the dynamic development of Chinese society and portrayed the character of the imperial administration through social classification. Departing from earlier focus on the production system, he went on to discuss imperial organization and management, then to the social system. He analyzed the political structure of the Han and Tang empires. Some of his conclusions convincingly shed new light on the study of social mobilization as well as political roles of the elites of imperial China. His success marks the formation of the post-war Chinese studies in Japan.


Keywords: social coordination, relations of production, ideology, tribute system, national independence